Objective Becoming a doctor involves transforming a lay person into a medical professional, which is known as professional socialisation. However, few studies have clarified differences in the professional socialisation process in detail. The aim of this study was to clarify the process of professional socialisation of medical students to residents to staff doctors. Design We used narrative analysis in qualitative research as a theoretical framework. Setting This study was conducted in Japan. Participants Participants were collected using a purposive sample of doctors with over 7 years of medical experience. We conducted semistructured interviews from September 2015 to December 2016, then used a structured approach to integrate the sequence of events into coherent configurations. Results Participants were 13 males and 8 females with medical careers ranging from 8 to 30 years. All participants began to seriously consider their own career and embodied their ideal image of a doctor through clinical practice. As residents, the participants adapted as a member of the organisation of doctors. Subsequently, doctors exhibited four patterns: first, they smoothly transitioned from peripheral' to full' participation in the organisation; second, they could no longer participate peripherally but developed a professional image from individual social interactions; third, they were affected by outsiders' perspectives and gradually participated peripherally; fourth, they could not regard the hospital as a legitimate organisation and could not participate fully. Conclusion The professional socialisation process comprises an institutional theory, professional persona, legitimate peripheral participation and threshold concepts. These findings may be useful in supporting professional development.
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